Pressure Cooker Vegan Lentil Soup

On the myriad cooking shows I watch they often use pressure cookers. I've often wondered to myself if I need one and if I did have one, what exactly I would make with it. 

I never did buy one for myself. I always figured I had the time to wait for the same thing to happen via the stovetop. 

But for some strange reason, my mother bought one. She doesn't even like to cook. Perhaps that factored into her decision. 

When she fell ill, I found myself with the desire to make good use of this appliance on her behalf. It felt therapeutic to create sustenance from this device that she'd bought so soon before she'd become sick. 
Since it's summer and hot, I thought to myself, I can make a complex broth based soup without making the house hot simmering it on the stovetop for a long time. 

My absolute favorite soup meal is lentil soup. It's just the ultimate vegan chicken noodle soup analog. It's the food of memories, childhood and comfort. It will give you a big hug. 


Cheap and Easy Vegetarian Lasagna

I see veggie lasagna recipes all the time. To my frustration most utilize Parmesan cheese. While some Parmesans are truly veg, many are not. And in my opinion, anything other than fresh grated Parmesan is wasted inside a lasagna. You're not going to taste that bland powdered stuff.

Most vegetarian lasagnas also rely wholly on cheese. Mine however, forgoes the Parmesan and uses beans in place of the missing meat. It's heartier, more filling and less expensive. Ricotta cheese is a lot of money. Beans are cheap. So rather than using a ton of ricotta, use beans where the meat would normally go. It's easier too. You can just use the beans straight out of the can rinsed. No extra cooking. No special white sauces to make. It easy, tasty and really fills you up quite well.

1 box no boil lasagna noodles
1 jar tomato sauce
1 can petite cut diced tomatoes
1 small container ricotta cheese
1 packet pre-shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can rinsed black beans
1 cup frozen or fresh spinach
5 cloves fresh garlic, sliced into a few pieces per cloves
2 tsps olive oil
salt and pepper

In a standard fry pan heat 1 tsp of olive oil until pretty hot. Saute spinach in oil until fragrant. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add garlic cloves. Continue sauteing until garlic is slightly browned and the aroma is strong.

Allow to cool in a heat safe mixing bowl.

In another bowl combine tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Set aside.

When spinach is cool add ricotta and a few handfuls of mozzarella and stir to evenly combine.

Spray a lasagna pan with cooking spray. Pre-heat often to 375 degrees F.

Layer noodles evenly on the bottom of the pan. Should typically fit four. Cover thoroughly in tomato mix. Make sure to cover every bit of the noodles. No boil noodles need the liquid from the sauce in order to cook.

On first layer of noodles spread half of your spinach/ricotta mix. Top with a few more sprinkles of additional mozzarella.

Add next layer of four noodles. Cover with tomato mix. Add other half of ricotta mix. Add half your beans and top with some more mozzarella.

Add next four noodles. Cover in sauce. Add rest of beans and cover with more mozzarella. Be sure to reserve enough mozzarella to top the lasagna.

Finish with last layer of noodles. Cover those in sauce.

Cover with lid or tin foil. Add to preheated over and bake 40 minutes for convection bake 50 for regular.

When time is up, remove from oven (leave oven on). Remove lid. Drizzle with top with remaining 1 tsp olive oil and top with remaining mozzarella. Add back to oven lidless and let bake 5-10 more minutes just until cheese is nicely melted.

Remove from oven and replace cover. Let stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Of course it's important to make sure you use vegetarian mozzarella and ricotta if you want it to truly be veg. I know sorrento ricotta is okay. Sorrento says all their cheese is veg. Sargento most are. Steer clear of anything with romano, asiago, provolone. Plain mozzarella is safe. Great Lakes, Cabot, Crystal Farms and Helluva Good are also good as far as I know. Dunno if Borden makes mozzarella or ricotta where you live (they don't sell any here) but they say all their enzymes are microbial too. Or you can buy the vegetarian cheese found in the produce department.